I come from an extended family that has always kept its needs simple and has almost never relied on credit. So does my husband. Watching how our relatives have lived in retirement has set my general expectations for my own retirement.
1: We Will Have Our Own Small Home Before Retirement
All of our family has always had a paid-for small home before retirement. Some of them, admittedly, built that home themselves. Others inherited a family home which no one could ever mistake for a mansion. A very few of them sold that home early into retirement and moved into rental housing that appealed to them more than home ownership—but they moved because they chose to not because they had to.
We have had our home fully paid off for several years. So that expectation for retirement has been met.
We might decide to move again but I doubt very highly that we would move somewhere that we couldn’t fully pay for with the money generated by selling where we live now. We are also not averse to renting if needs be.
2: We Will Never Fully Stop Working
Not all of our relatives had “career” types of jobs. Of the ones that did, though, most stopped working in a formal 9-5 way at or before 65. But they didn’t fully stop working.
Among our extended family, “retired” members have worked after retirement as
- choir leaders and accompanists
- antique finders-restorers-and-sellers
- supply teachers and tutors
- business consultants
- desktop publishers
- fine wood workers
- retail employees
- music teachers
and probably some other things that I don’t know about.
These jobs are in addition to their work as volunteers.
Neither my husband nor I intend to fully stop working at retirement either. There are so many interesting types of work to be done that it seems unlikely we wouldn’t want to try something.
We’ve also seen within the family how earning some extra money can make a retirement more pleasant. Because this extra income is not budgeted for or required, it can be spent on whatever brings joy.
Most of our relatives were and are very conservative spenders. It is difficult for some of them to spend their retirement savings, for example, on a few weeks in the sun during the winter. They brood about the high costs of nursing homes and don’t want to draw-down their capital when it might mean the difference between a good or intolerable nursing home in the future.
Having a few extra thousand dollars of income earned that same year makes it feel acceptable to them to take that enjoyable beach vacation, buy that new computer, give that young relative an expensive gift, or indulge in their hobbies.
I expect we, too, will want to keep working, for the work itself and for the extra funds.
We are both already widening our horizons in anticipation of this. My husband recently finished a continuing education college certificate program in one of his interests. I can see a variety of possible part-time opportunities in that field of interest.
I’ve created this website: while it’s not an income-generating proposition, I can list several opportunities it has created for money-paying work, should I decide to pursue them.
3: We Will Travel But We Are Not Travellers
Most of our family has enjoyed brief journeys every year or two in retirement. A few were limited financially to staying in their home province throughout their retirement. None has travelled extensively (e.g. for months at a time) after retiring with the exception of a few one-off 6-week trips.
Like many of our family, we enjoy brief travels both on this continent and further abroad. We hope to be able to make similar short trips periodically in retirement.
Fortunately, my husband and I are both satisfied with about the same amount of travelling per year. It can be more of a challenge if one partner derives huge joy from extended travel and the other loathes it.
Neither of us would be heartbroken if we were unable to travel. That leaves us in a good place: if our finances permit, we will enjoy some short trips; if they don’t, we will not suffer.
4: Our Hobbies Will Not Provide a Financial Burden and Will Provide a Creative Experience
The members of both of our extended families are very active, involved people. They enjoy a diversity of hobbies and none of them have been the park-in-front-of-the-TV all evening type.
Watching and talking to our relatives about their interests has shown us what a diversity of things there are enjoy. Many of these things have low or no costs.
For example, if you want to garden but can’t afford plants or tools and live in a high rise, there is often a community garden that needs volunteers to help tend and raise flowers and crops. If there isn’t, it’s often just a matter of being the catalyst to get one dug!
Judging by how often my husband and I have trouble finding enough time to participate in all of the activities and hobbies we enjoy, I think we’ll be fine in retirement.
And several of our favourites require almost no cash: my husband can enjoy sketching even on the backs of advertising flyers with a HB pencil stub and I can successfully search for wildlife in even the most degraded roadside ditch. Having proper drawing supplies and a great camera can make both hobbies better but they aren’t critical to the enjoyment.
5: We Will Inherit from Our Relatives
I fully expect to inherit from my relatives if they die before me. I also expect that I will use that 25 cents to create something beautiful in their memory: most probably by buying wildflower seeds at a local meet.
6: We Will Have a Sufficiency if Not a Superfluity of Income
Our relatives have almost all had a sufficient income in retirement. Admittedly that is because they all had very simple expectations. None of them considered an extravagant new car (or indeed any car, in some cases), the newest electronics or frequent meals eaten in restaurants to be part of their needs. They kept their needs to a minimum and only spent beyond that if their income exceeded their needs.
We’ve been saving steadily all of our working lives to help provide for our future. At this point, we believe we have a sufficient amount accumulated to provide for our true needs in retirement. We don’t intend to stop saving, however, because we could be wrong. And if we are right, it only means we would have extra income, which is a welcome problem.
7: We Will Continue to Enjoy Living After Retirement but We Will Not Defer Living Until Retirement
We always try to balance, however, our saving for the future with our wishes for the present. There isn’t always a future as we’ve seen too many times.
So we challenge ourselves at least twice a year and ask ourselves what we would regret if we lose the opportunity to ever do it? Usually the answer is nothing. But when we identify something that genuinely matters to us, we try to get it done, now, before it can become a regret.
One of my closest relatives waited until he was in his eighties to first visit the country from which his ancestors came to Canada. He had a great time exploring (alone! and not speaking or reading the language) and even went back again the following year. He almost left it too late, however, as shortly after his second trip, his health took an unexpected turn.
We’ve had other friends enter retirement as widows and widowers, shocked and bewildered to find they no longer had their life’s partners at their sides as they had planned.
We know it can happen to anyone, even us. So we try to achieve the balance between saving for the future with spending now for what holds meaning and importance.
8: Our Health In Retirement
We have no expectations for our health in retirement. We’ve watched relatives suffer and succumb young and others outlive their annuities.
Like many, we try to do what we can to maintain our health in case that may help us continue to enjoy good health longer. We don’t brood excessively about it, though.
By not deferring the things that matter most to us, we hope that if we do suffer ill health in retirement, it won’t be as devastating to our dreams.
What Expectations Do You Hold for Retirement?
Those are some of our beliefs and plans for retirement. Have you pieced together what you expect?
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What expectations do you have for your retirement? Are you actively working to make them realistic? Please share your ideas with a comment.